SIBU, Malaysia (Reuters) – A car, which was involved in a fatal accident in July this year in the Malaysian state of Sarawak, was reportedly bought in Brunei Darussalam, according to reports.
Malaysian Law Suk Leh, 43, who lived and worked in Brunei Darussalam along with her Filipino husband, was driving her 11-year-old Honda City car down from the Sultanate when it collided with another vehicle making a turn across her lane at an intersection in a quiet industrial zone on the outskirts of the town of Sibu.
Meanwhile, the death of Law, who was heavily pregnant, has opened a new front in a widening US investigation into defective air bags that has triggered one of the biggest safety recalls in automotive history.
A Malaysian newspaper reported that the Honda City was manufactured in Thailand and the air bag was made in a Takata plant in Georgia.
The Sarawak accident took place on July 27 but was only disclosed by Honda on Thursday, the paper said.
Honda’s Brunei branch alerted the Japanese automaker to the Malaysian incident, police said, and a team of five investigators arrived in Sibu about two weeks later to collect the ruptured air bag. Police said Honda had contacted Law’s family, but had no further details.
According to local police, Law, who was wearing a seat belt, was hit in the neck by a single fragment of metal, nearly 2.5 centimetres in diameter, from the air bag that tore apart in the collision. The post-mortem report showed she died from a “severe puncture wound on the neck”.
Law and her 41-year-old Filipino husband were visiting family in Sibu ahead of the Eid holidays.
The 21-year-old driver of the other vehicle involved in the collision told Reuters he was taking family and friends to a local night market. He said an ambulance was called after the crash, but a pick-up truck driver offered to drive Law to the hospital.
The driver said he and the woman’s husband carried her to the back of the pick-up.
Law was later transferred to an ambulance, but was pronounced dead en route to hospital, where a baby daughter was delivered alive, but died two days later, police said.
Law’s nephew, Law Ee Liang, said his aunt had just a week left of her pregnancy.
Law’s husband, who told police their car was travelling at 60-70 km per hour, suffered minor injuries in the front passenger seat, police said.
Confirming the fatal incident on Thursday, Honda Motor recalled another 170,000 of its cars to have the air bags replaced, taking its total recalls over potentially defective air bags made by Japan’s Takata Corp to almost 10 million in recent years.
Law’s is the fifth Takata air bag-linked fatality, and the first outside the United States. All have been in Honda cars.
Takata has said it is the subject of a US criminal investigation over its air bags.
While humid Florida and the steamy island of Borneo are more than 16,000 km apart, their sticky climates may hold a clue to some of the Takata-related fatalities.